I’ll admit, picking the Australian Open wasn’t terribly difficult. And picking the French Open was hardly a challenge. So picking Wimbledon with Grass King Roger Federer should be easy, right? But it really isn’t.
The problem with Wimbledon this year it’s hard to make a case that anyone of any significance is playing worth a lick on God’s green earth.
Federer just lost to Lleyton Hewitt last week in Halle. Hewitt’s a fair foe but an in-form Federer wins that match. But Roger didn’t because the Swiss simply hasn’t been in-form on any surface since his Australian Open victory.
I thought French Open champ Rafael Nadal played well but not great during his title run last month in Paris. And then Nadal stumbled at Queen’s. I made the case then that it wasn’t a big deal that Nadal was upset by Feliciano Lopez given is playing schedule (he just came off the red clay), and it still isn’t. But I’m just not convinced Rafa’s level is anywhere near where it was two years ago when he swept both the French and Wimbledon.
Andy Murray is the next favorite, but he’s gone into witness protection since his Australian Open final flop. Andy Roddick has become the sentimental pick, but the 3-time Wimbledon finalist just lost to Dudi Sela at Queen’s, and the tournament did him no favors with the draw. Plus, we all know that players who lose to Dudi the tournament before don’t go on to win Slams!
The other main contender is Novak Djokovic, however the Serb’s been lacking the confidence needed to put it all together for two weeks.
So that leaves me with the guys I originally though who would do well.
First, I think Federer’s draw is so breezy that he’ll get through. His only real test is Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, and it’s a question mark if Berdych can even get to that point. So I think Federer gets to the semifinals.
Roddick and Djokovic are the big names in the second quarter, but I’m counting on another Slam winner in this group. His name is Lleyton Hewitt. The Aussie has a great draw and I think he can beat Djokovic. If Roddick can overcome Michael Llodra and Phil Kohlschreiber, he’ll have to face Cilic. And if that meeting happens I like Cilic. Then I’ll take the grass and big match experience of Hewitt over Cilic, and Lleyton gets into the semifinals.
In the bottom half, I think Murray walks into the semifinals. His draw is just too cushy for him to mess up. Gilles Simon hasn’t been playing much. Sam Querrey is a capable threat but unproven in Slams while Spaniards Fernando Verdasco and Juan Carlos Ferrero are at their weakest on the grass. Jo Tsonga is the real darkhorse but I think Murray gets through this section and into the semifinals.
So who’ll Murray meet? Well, I’m going to say it’s not Nadal. The 2008 champ faces Kei Nishikori and then James Blake (frankly I think Robin Haase beats Blake) and with Ernests Gulbis sadly still hobbled, Nadal gets his replacement Philipp Petzschner. But Nadal maybe gets stung by Mikhail Youhzny in the fourth round. If the Russian doesn’t get him Robin Soderling will. Soderling is playing at his best when it counts the most. And I think his draw should get him to the quarterfinals to meet Nadal. And in that match I’m going with the Swede who gets a small measure revenge on Rafa.
So my semifinals looks like Federer v. Hewitt, Murray v. Soderling.
My final pick? I think Soderling beats Murray, and in the other match I’m going to get crazy here and pick Hewitt to beat Federer. That’s right Hewitt over Federer and then I’m taking Hewitt to win the title!
There, I did it. Shout it from the rooftops. Hewitt over Soderling in the Wimbledon final.
(Did that really just happen?)
And no, I’m not hitting the backspace key.
I think if Hewitt can get to the semifinals he’ll close the door. He’s always played well on grass and well in the Slams, and there are just so few danger players in his draw that I cannot see him not getting to the quarterfinals.
Also, with the confidence he built from the Halle win over Federer, I’ll take that chance here on Hewitt. I can’t believe it.
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